Before I started writing regularly, I worried that I didn't have enough ideas to write a book. Now, I know that I was confused about the nature of inspiration. It isn't something you wait for while reclining on a chaise longue; you have to rugby tackle your muse and chain it to your desk. Or, as Picasso said: 'Inspiration exists but it has to find you working'.
So, developing a daily practice of writing is an excellent start. You will find - I promise - that the more you write, the more ideas you will have.
Personally, I love jumping into a project with only the vaguest of notions and seeing what happens, but If this isn't your particular process (and it might not be), it might help to know that good ideas are everywhere. They're lying thick on the ground and all you have to do is stoop down and gather them up.
Ideas come from that overheard conversation, the brilliant book you read, the terrible film you saw that you know would've been so much better if it had started halfway through and they'd changed the main character into a woman... They come from from reading news stories, from 'what if' thoughts, and they come from conversations with your friends.
Embrace the power of lists. Yes, lists. If you're completely stuck for ideas, make a list of all the things that interest you. Everything that you find cool, beautiful, funny, or intriguing. Don't censor yourself or think about what the list 'says' about you and don't put anything on the list unless you love it.
Take your muse on a date. I know this sounds like we're wanding into the Land Of The Pretentious, but stick with me. I promise you don't need to grow a goatie or wear a black poloneck for this assignment. Your date can be as simple as spending an hour in a coffee shop, watching people and (discreetly!) earwigging on passing conversations. It could be a trip to an art gallery or a musuem or the local park. Whatever floats your boat. The only rule is this; engage actively with whatever you're experiencing. Be open to the possibility of ideas for story, setting, character - and don't forget your notebook!
Steal. I'm not talking about copying other people's work, but creativity does not exist in a vacuum. Everything we write is a product of our own experience and that includes the art, literature, film, television, and music we've consumed. Picasso (quotable chap) said it best: 'Good artists copy, great artists steal'.
So, steal fearlessly and creatively. Combine existing ideas to make new ones (how about Gone With The Wind set on a space station?) and remember that there is a fine literary tradition of re-working existing tales.
Whatever story you choose as your inspiration, tell it in your own way and with your own voice and you will make something new (and probably almost unrecognisable from your source material). Don't believe me? Even 'close' re-imaginings of famous stories result in very different creations. Read The Taming of the Shrew and watch 10 Things I Hate about You. Or compare Romeo and Juliet (which Shakespeare based on Brooke's poem The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet) and West Side Story.
So, go forth and write and, if that fails, go forth and steal!
[Image Credit: Picasso quote art print by chARiTyelise Designs. Available from Etsy]